Healthy Eating Habits Start With Parents


Parents have the most important influence on their children’s lives. That is especially true with learning good eating habits. When children see their parents eating healthy foods, they are likely to do the same.

As role models, parents can help put their kids on the path to a lifetime of healthy eating choices.

Show Kids the Healthy Way

Kids may not think eating healthy is important if they don’t see you doing it. Here are some healthy eating tips that parents can follow and pass along to their children:

  • Try to keep junk food off your shelves. If you don’t buy junk food at the grocery store, it won’t be part of your diet or your children’s diet at home.
  • Try not to skip meals. Skipping a meal makes your metabolism slow down, so the food you eat isn’t burned as well. Skipping makes you feel tired. It could cause you to eat too much at your next meal because you’re so hungry. The Mayo Clinic says the best bet is to eat consistent, healthy meals and/or snacks throughout the day.
  • Eat an average amount of food at meals. If you don’t overeat, your kids probably won’t overeat.
  • Make water your family’s No. 1 drink. Try to avoid soft drinks. Remember that water helps with weight loss. It’s good for your skin and keeps your muscles working well. Drinking water is also important for digesting your food.
  • Eat foods from all food groups—milk, fruit, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats, fish and beans. Having a balanced diet with healthy choices from every group is important to good health.
  • Adults and kids alike may want something sweet after dinner. Try something healthy like fruit and yogurt for dessert.
  • Show ways to handle stress that don’t include eating.

Be Ready for School

With school starting soon, parents and children can work together to eat right all year.

Parents and children can get the day off right by eating a healthy breakfast together. Studies show that eating a good breakfast helps kids arrive at school alert and ready to learn all day. By eating family meals together, the whole family will eat better.

Parents can also ask kids to help pack a healthy lunch for both parents and kids. Getting them involved will teach them how to make healthy choices and take care of themselves.

Small Starts for Families

Check out these tips from Healthier Tennessee’s Small Starts for Families that will help your family enjoy a lifetime of healthy eating:

Crunch and Munch. When you make your run to the food store, pick up crunchy vegetables like peppers, broccoli and cucumbers. They can be cut into bite-size pieces for a healthy family snack. Try to have your child eat five servings of fruits and vegetables every day.

OK to Go Slow. Try to teach your children to take time between bites and slow down as they chew and swallow. This simple step can help them to not eat too much.

Make a Meal Plan. Write down what your family will eat for dinner each night of the week, and go grocery shopping ahead of time. This will keep you from having last-minute dinner panic, which can lead to unhealthy decisions when you're hungry and in a hurry.


Leave Sugary Snacks Behind. Instead of a high-calorie, processed snack, think about packing some cut-up vegetables or fruit for your child to munch on before lunch. A fresh apple, banana or snack-size bag of baby carrots, grapes or berries are all great choices. Eating a healthy snack can keep your child full and ready to learn at school.

These healthy habits can help your children grow and develop, prevent health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity, and feel better overall.

For more tips about healthy eating, physical activity, good sleep habits and even dental health, check out Healthier Tennessee’s Small Starts for Families tool. Sign up for an account and personalize your plan.

Get 5 Small Starts to Becoming a Healthier Family: